The Cricket Warrior: A Chinese Tale

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9780689506055: The Cricket Warrior: A Chinese Tale

In order to save his family, a Chinese boy turns into a fighting cricket and becomes the emperor's champion.

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From Publishers Weekly:

When Cheng Ming and his son, Wei nian, capture a stout cricket, it looks as though they may be able to save their failing farm: the insect will serve as their overdue tax to the emperor, who loves cricket fights. Wei nian's curiosity gets the better of him, however, and, when he tries to get a better look at the cricket, it escapes. Desperate to make amends, Wei nian says yes when a mysterious old man asks him if he would like to take the cricket's place. Soon a scrawny but spirited red cricket becomes court champion. The Changs' (In the Eye of War) dynamic retelling of this tale, which was first recorded in the 17th century, emphasizes Wei nian's concern with honor, the humor of his role as underdog (facing his first cricket opponent, he "waved [his] antennae, trying to look fierce") and the strength of the familial bond: although Cheng Ming has received riches for his cricket and Wei nian as cricket has garnered fame, both are truly happy only when they are reunited. Hutton (Persephone) evokes a memorable Chinese landscape, serene and seemingly timeless under an inky moonlit sky. His delicate lines and luminiscent washes capture the feistiness of the red cricket as well as the magic attending the transformations that frame the tale. Ages 5-9.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews:

A tale of magic and loyalty, first told some 300 years ago in China. It was a time when the emperor was smitten with fighting crickets, going so far as to levy a tax to increase his cricket stable. One victim of the tax, about to be thrown in jail for failing to ante up, manages to bag the Mike Tyson of crickets, only to have it escape through the foolishness of his son. An old soul comes to the son's rescue but requires him to turn into a cricket. A series of prize fights ensues, including bouts with Crabshell Blue and Longwings, both court champions. Wei nian--the son, now cricket--prevails, becoming the hero of the court, but homesickness prompts him to attempt a dangerous escape across a chicken-strewn yard. The old soul again comes to his rescue, this time transforming Wei nian back into a boy and reuniting him with his family. The Changs know how to give the whims of authority a good lambasting without getting smug about it, and Hutton's crabbed pen-and-wash illustrations bring a Roz Chast leavening to the serious themes of the story. (Picture book. 5-9) -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Chang, Margaret, Chang, Raymond
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